Country of Origin
Kölsch originated in Cologne, Germany in 1906, although it was not called "Kölsch" until 1918. A top-fermented beer, Kölsch was popular in Germany during the first half of the 20th Century when Cologne had over 40 breweries. During WWII, all but 2 of Cologne's breweries were destroyed. Most breweries in Cologne rebuilt and the brewing of Kölsch hit its peak in 1980. 

Kölsch is a product with protected geographic indication (PGI) and adheres to the German Purity Law (although Kölsch exported out of Germany is not required to adhere to the law). 

Kölsch is a light beer ranging from a pale yellow to light straw colour (falling between 3-4 on the SRM colour scale). A Kölsch should not have any haze or cloudiness, and a head that does not remain very long after pouring. The flavour profile of a properly brewed Kölsch should have low bitterness, a mild malt taste, and no notable harsh aftertaste. 

Kölsch is traditionally served in a Stange (German for “pole”) - a straight sided, narrow cylinder glass, around 50 °F. While German beer lovers usually have Stange glasses on hand, you may also see a Kölsch served in a Pilsner glass or a regular pint glass.

Food Pairing
Kölsch pairs well with traditional German cuisine including Bratwurst and Schnitzel. The malt-forward profile of a Kölsch also does well with spicy foods and shellfish dishes.


Brewing Tips

  • Simple doesn’t mean easy. A Kölsch recipe isn't an overly difficult one to brew, but it's hard to create a proper, traditional Kölsch without patience and attention to detail.
  • Stick to German Noble Hops & German yeast. It's tempting to use whatever yeasts and hops you have on hand, or experiment with different ones. To be true to the Kölsch history, use German noble hops & German yeast.
  • Use A Single Malt. Again, to keep a Kölsch true to traditional style, use a single pale malt. You can add others, but keep them below 5% of your total malt. Keep in mind that by doing this, your Kölsch won't be traditional.
Want to brew your own Kölsch?
Try Brew HQ's Kölsch Recipe Kit.